ASSEMBLY, No. 1773

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2010 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  NANCY F. MUNOZ

District 21 (Essex, Morris, Somerset and Union)

Assemblyman  ROBERT SCHROEDER

District 39 (Bergen)

Assemblywoman  LINDA R. GREENSTEIN

District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman Casagrande

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     “Judy and Nikki’s Law”; provides for life imprisonment without parole for persons convicted of murder of a child 16 years of age or younger.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


An Act concerning the murder of a child, designated as “Judy and Nikki’s Law,” and amending N.J.S.2C:11-3.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    N.J.S.2C:11-3 is amended to read as follows;

2C:11-3.  Murder.

     a.     Except as provided in N.J.S.2C:11-4, criminal homicide constitutes murder when:

     (1)   The actor purposely causes death or serious bodily injury resulting in death; or

     (2)   The actor knowingly causes death or serious bodily injury resulting in death; or

     (3)   It is committed when the actor, acting either alone or with one or more other persons, is engaged in the commission of, or an attempt to commit, or flight after committing or attempting to commit robbery, sexual assault, arson, burglary, kidnapping, carjacking, criminal escape or terrorism pursuant to section 2 of P.L.2002, c.26 (C.2C:38-2), and in the course of such crime or of immediate flight therefrom, any person causes the death of a person other than one of the participants; except that in any prosecution under this subsection, in which the defendant was not the only participant in the underlying crime, it is an affirmative defense that the defendant:

     (a)   Did not commit the homicidal act or in any way solicit, request, command, importune, cause or aid the commission thereof; and

     (b)   Was not armed with a deadly weapon, or any instrument, article or substance readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury and of a sort not ordinarily carried in public places by law-abiding persons; and

     (c)   Had no reasonable ground to believe that any other participant was armed with such a weapon, instrument, article or substance; and

     (d)   Had no reasonable ground to believe that any other participant intended to engage in conduct likely to result in death or serious physical injury.

     b.    (1) Murder is a crime of the first degree but a person convicted of murder shall be sentenced, except as provided in paragraphs (2), (3) and (4) of this subsection, by the court to a term of 30 years, during which the person shall not be eligible for parole, or be sentenced to a specific term of years which shall be between 30 years and life imprisonment of which the person shall serve 30 years before being eligible for parole.

     (2)   If the victim was a law enforcement officer and was murdered while performing his official duties or was murdered because of his status as a law enforcement officer, the person convicted of that murder shall be sentenced by the court to a term of life imprisonment, during which the person shall not be eligible for parole.

     (3)   A person convicted of murder shall be sentenced to a term of life imprisonment without eligibility for parole if the [murder was committed under all of the following circumstances:

     (a)   The] victim is [less than 14] 16 years [old; and

     (b)   The act is committed in the course of the commission, whether alone or with one or more persons, of a violation of N.J.S.2C:14-2 or N.J.S.2C:14-3] of age or less.

     (4)   Any person convicted under subsection a.(1) or (2) who committed the homicidal act by his own conduct; or who as an accomplice procured the commission of the offense by payment or promise of payment of anything of pecuniary value; or who, as a leader of a narcotics trafficking network as defined in N.J.S.2C:35-3 and in furtherance of a conspiracy enumerated in N.J.S.2C:35-3, commanded or by threat or promise solicited the commission of the offense, or, if the murder occurred during the commission of the crime of terrorism, any person who committed the crime of terrorism, shall be sentenced by the court to life imprisonment without eligibility for parole, which sentence shall be served in a maximum security prison, if a jury finds beyond a reasonable doubt that any of the following aggravating factors exist:

     (a)   The defendant has been convicted, at any time, of another murder.  For purposes of this section, a conviction shall be deemed final when sentence is imposed and may be used as an aggravating factor regardless of whether it is on appeal;

     (b)   In the commission of the murder, the defendant purposely or knowingly created a grave risk of death to another person in addition to the victim;

     (c)   The murder was outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman in that it involved torture, depravity of mind, or an aggravated assault to the victim;

     (d)   The defendant committed the murder as consideration for the receipt, or in expectation of the receipt of anything of pecuniary value;

     (e)   The defendant procured the commission of the murder by payment or promise of payment of anything of pecuniary value;

     (f)    The murder was committed for the purpose of escaping detection, apprehension, trial, punishment or confinement for another offense committed by the defendant or another;

     (g)   The murder was committed while the defendant was engaged in the commission of, or an attempt to commit, or flight after committing or attempting to commit murder, robbery, sexual assault, arson, burglary, kidnapping, carjacking or the crime of contempt in violation of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:29-9;

     (h)   The defendant murdered a public servant, as defined in N.J.S.2C:27-1, while the victim was engaged in the performance of his official duties, or because of the victim's status as a public servant;

     (i)    The defendant: (i) as a leader of a narcotics trafficking network as defined in N.J.S.2C:35-3 and in furtherance of a conspiracy enumerated in N.J.S.2C:35-3, committed, commanded or by threat or promise solicited the commission of the murder or (ii) committed the murder at the direction of a leader of a narcotics trafficking network as defined in N.J.S.2C:35-3 in furtherance of a conspiracy enumerated in N.J.S.2C:35-3;

     (j)    The homicidal act that the defendant committed or procured was in violation of paragraph (1) of subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:17-2;

     (k)   [The victim was less than 14 years old] (Deleted by amendment, P.L.    , c.   ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill); or

     (l)    The murder  was committed during the commission of, or an attempt to commit, or flight after committing or attempting to commit, terrorism pursuant to section 2 of P.L.2002, c.26 (C.2C:38-2).

     (5)   A juvenile who has been tried as an adult and convicted of murder shall be sentenced pursuant to paragraph (1), (2) or (3) of this subsection.

     c.     (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2007, c.204).

     d.    (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2007, c.204).

     e.     (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2007, c.204).

     f.     (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2007, c.204).

     g.     (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2007, c.204).

     h.     (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2007, c.204).

     i.      For purposes of this section the term "homicidal act" shall mean conduct that causes death or serious bodily injury resulting in death.

     j.     In a sentencing proceeding conducted pursuant to this section, the display of a photograph of the victim taken before the homicide shall be permitted.

(cf: P.L.2007, c.204, s.1)

 

     2.    This act shall take effect immediately and shall be applicable to any person sentenced on or after the effective date.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill designated as “Judy and Nikki’s law” would provide that a person convicted of murder of a child 16 years of age or less would be sentenced to life imprisonment without eligibility for parole. This bill’s title is in honor of Judy Cajuste and Nicole Giovanni, who were two teenage murder victims. Judy Cajuste was a bright, energetic 14 year-old high school freshman sprinter on the track team at Abraham Clark High School in Roselle. She disappeared on January 11, 2006 shortly after track practice. Her body was later found in Weequahic Park in Newark.  Nicole Giovanni of Roselle Park was also recently and tragically murdered.  She was a 14 year-old freshman and accomplished indoor track runner at Roselle Catholic High School. She was allegedly bludgeoned to death by her mother Lynn Giovanni in February  2005.

     N.J.S.A.2C:11-3 provides that if a person is convicted of murder the person must be sentenced either to a term of 30 years imprisonment with no eligibility of parole or to a specific term of years between 30 years and life imprisonment of which the person must serve 30 years before being eligible for parole. In addition, N.J.S.A.2C:11-3 provides for a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without eligibility for parole under the following circumstances: a person convicted of the murder of a law enforcement officer or a person convicted of the murder of a child under the age of 14 during the commission of a sexual assault.

     This bill changes the second circumstance where life imprisonment is imposed by increasing the age of a child from 14 years of age to 16 years of age  and by removing the factor that the murder was committed during the commission of a sexual assault. Therefore, under the provisions of the  bill if a person is convicted of the murder of a child 16 years of age or less that person would be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.